GRAPEVINE, Texas (BP)–In a joint announcement March 12, Arlington, Texas, pastor Dwight McKissic and the officers of the board of trustees at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary said they “have agreed to meet privately and confidentially” and “also agreed to table any recommended action against Rev. McKissic,” a first-year board member.
The four-sentence e-mail from board Chairman T. Van McClain of New York closed by saying, “Both the officers and Rev. McKissic plan to make no further statements at this time.”
The Southern Baptist Texan newspaper broke the story March 5 that the board’s officers planned to meet privately with McKissic to address what McClain deemed possible trustee policy violations during McKissic’s first year on the board. McKissic publicly has criticized SBC agency policies that prohibit the charismatic use of tongues and private prayer language, the latter of which he said he practices in his personal devotions.
On March 7, McKissic, who is black, issued an apology to McClain of New York, who is white, after accusing McClain of seeking his removal and likening it to “a 21st-century lynching of an independent-thinking black man who has demonstrated strong support for the Southern Baptist Convention.”
After McKissic released his initial statement on Monday, McClain responded in an e-mail to the Texan, stating the meeting planned next month of board officers and McKissic, if he attends, has “nothing to do with his race or his beliefs or his right to appropriately express his beliefs” and that he was “grieved” by McKissic’s comments.
Contacted by the Texan March 5 after McClain revealed board officers’ plans to meet with him, McKissic initially delayed comment by telephone, but later e-mailed correspondence between him and McClain and a formal statement, saying he learned of the board officers’ plans through the media, and comparing the process to a lynching.
McClain said: “As to the issue that Rev. McKissic learned of the meeting with the officers through the media, the letter to him was sent last Friday [March 2] by certified mail, return receipt requested. The postal service could have delivered it to him on Saturday, but unfortunately did not deliver it to him until Monday afternoon [March 5], according to postal service records.”
At issue are concerns about the manner in which McKissic has expressed his disagreement regarding board actions and seminary policies, McClain said. The board chairman also claims McKissic inappropriately used confidential material sent to him as a trustee in advance of the board’s Oct. 16-17 meeting.
In his statement, McKissic said he had asked for specific instances of board violations but got none.
McKissic made headlines last August when he preached in a Southwestern chapel service and spoke of an experience of a “private prayer language” during his seminary days. Without mentioning the International Mission Board by name, he criticized the board’s 2005 policy that would bar candidates who speak in tongues or practice a “private prayer language.”
Last October, the seminary’s board passed a resolution by a vote of 39-1 that declared “private practices of devotion” which are kept private to be “beyond the purview of Southwestern Seminary.” Trustees insisted, however, that neither the seminary board nor the staff and faculty will “endorse in any way, advertise, or commend the conclusions of the contemporary charismatic movement including ‘private prayer language.’” McKissic was the lone dissenting vote on the resolution.
This story first appeared on the website of the Southern Baptist Texan.